When college professor Randy Pausch was told he had six months to live, he delivered his last lecture. It was filled with wisdom from a man who had lived a good life and wanted to leave a legacy; for his students, friends and family. Little did he know that this lecture would become pop-culture.
If I were told that I had six months to live, and could share one last lecture with my friends and love ones, what would I say?
I thought about how I lead my life; about my personal rules for life. I have no reason to hide them from anyone, not that anyone would care about them to begin with. But, if I could share some of what drives me, then maybe a small part of what I’m saying might make a difference to someone.
So, here are my personal Top Ten Ways I’ve lived my life.
- Be nice to people. Learn to play well with others. Life is more fun that way.
- Learn how to forgive. Don’t hold grudges. Life is too short. You end up angry, bitter and stressed out. The negative energy that comes from harboring a grudge can kill happiness. One strategy is to learn to agree to disagree. As for grudges, my mother says that I forgive too easily. I find that to be a compliment.
- Be thankful for what you have. Don’t be jealous. It disappoints me when someone feels entitled to something, just because others have it. They say, “It’s not fair.” Take responsibility for your own life and what you have. Jealously, like holding grudges, creates negative energy that kills happiness.
- Remember that bad days only last 24 hours. That’s it. Simple as that. The next day is a new day. You can let bad feelings control you, or choose to move on.
- Have goals. Sometimes, “life” just happens. Still, you can do a little planning to bring you success. Once you’ve set your goals and are focused on what you want to achieve, be sure to also enjoy what happens along the way. In other words, don’t let a goal give you tunnel vision. A lot of extra opportunities will present themselves along the way. Be ready to take advantage of them.
- Create a life mantra. This takes a lot of time and thought. Make one up, live with it for a while, and then be willing to change it. Simplicity is the key; one sentence long. Simple to remember and easy to recite. It’s hard to sum up something so big into one sentence, but once you have it, you have something special. Mine is: Have fun and make the kids smile.
- Be a giver. Be charitable with your time, talent and dollars. However, while giving money can be important, sometimes giving your talent away is even more powerful. Help others get what they want. Be a mentor to others. Do a good deed for someone else. And, here is the key to really being charitable. Don’t expect anything in return. Give and forget.
- Be healthy. Stay fit. You’re no good to yourself and your family if you let yourself go. While you can’t control everything about your health, you do have some control. My very unhealthy and heavy-set friend once told me that he hates exercise. His doc says that not exercising and taking care of himself will probably take five plus years off his life. He is response was, “Those years aren’t coming out of the middle, so what does it matter.” My response to him was that it isn’t just about surviving these years. It is about quality of life during these years. Do your best to stay fit.
- The Titanic philosophy of life. I believe in enjoying life. I hate passing up opportunities. Sometimes these joys take effort. It may mean getting up in the middle of the night to see the eclipse, or waking up at 4:00 am. to make sure I get home early enough to be with my family. Or, maybe it is an extra workout so I can enjoy a delicious meal. The Titanic philosophy of life is simply this. Do you know what the fat lady said when she was sinking on the Titanic? Should have had dessert! Dessert is a metaphor for many other joys in life. Don’t let them pass you by
- And, on the subject about enjoying life, live a thousand years. My buddy Giovanni Livera wrote a book about this very subject. Live a thousand years is an old saying, but has validity. According to Gio, there is a real age, what you are in years, and a sage age, the age you are based on your experiences. He even has a test for it. My sage age was 880, which meant I’ve lived life large, and I want to continue to do so. I love to experience life. From playing hockey with the St. Louis Blues, to jumping out of an airplane with my mother and my son, to hiking the Italian Rivera’s coast with my wife, to teaching my fifteen year old daughter how to drive on the highway (Now that was an experience!), the list goes on. Life is truly a journey, so why not enjoy the journey. Sure, there will be sad times and tough times. Those times make the experiences even sweeter.
So there are my ten strategies to living life. Given that I’m healthy, I hope to live a long and happy life. I want to raise happy kids. I want them to know how to be good. I have no regrets to this point, and there is nothing on my list of places to go or things to see that I would regret not having done thus far.
Perhaps Randy Pausch’s last lecture will inspire you to create your own list.
Wishing you all of life’s magical wonders!
Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE is the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations. As a professional speaker and author, Shep helps companies develop loyal relationships with their customers and employees. For more information on Shep’s speaking programs and books, please contact (314) 692-2200. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.hyken.com. For information on customer service training, go to www.TheCustomerFocus.com.